Simple Christmas Holiday Traditions

What are some of your favorite Christmas holiday traditions? We all have them and they may just be more important than you think. Traditions like putting up the tree on December 15, buying a special new ornament each year, or opening one gift on Christmas Eve are a special part of the holiday season.

While we share many traditions, we also have unique twists on them. Maybe it’s getting Chinese food on Christmas Eve or putting out Santa’s boot on December 5th. Maybe it’s having homemade blueberry pancakes and hot chocolate for breakfast Christmas morning, or heading to a favorite restaurant after Midnight Mass.

Looking for ideas? Here are a few to help you get started.

This post is part of my 2021 12 Days of Christmas series.

Past Christmas Holiday Traditions

Think back on Christmases past. Chances are that the ones that stand out the most were years when your family didn’t have the money for the fanciest decorations, lots of events leading up to Christmas Eve and mountains of presents.

Instead, if your family is anything like mine, the Christmas holiday traditions we remember are from the years when we had little. I remember making garlands out of construction paper, doing pioneer Christmas crafts and stringing up popcorn to decorate the house.

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We spent the month of December looking at lights, playing board games, baking cookies, and singing Christmas Carols. We enjoyed holiday Christmas fragrances from fresh boughs and scented candles.

The gifts back then were less expensive but more meaningful and often homemade. Itís those simple Christmases that stand out in my mind. They are some of my most treasured Christmas holiday traditions and memories and the same holds true for the rest of my family.

No-Spend Christmas Ideas

This year we’re making an effort to keep it simple, and I’d like to invite you to join along.

We’re not buying more decorations. Instead, we’re sorting through what we have, picking the things we love, and giving away the rest.

The house is less cluttered and the decorations that are up stand out. As an added bonus it’s easier to clean and it will be much quicker to put away everything come January.

Cut Back on Holiday Commitments

Our calendar is a lot lighter this year as well, and not just due to the pandemic. Actually, we’ll be on a 14-day self-isolation during Christmas anyways!

Instead, I’ve chosen a handful of activities that I know we’ll enjoy. Most of the time will be spent as a family, doing scavenger hunts, toilet paper roll crafting, and reading our favorite holiday books.

When it comes to presents, we implement the four gift rule as part of our Christmas holiday traditions. Each child at home receives a total of four presents. (Our older children who now have families of their own usually get cash.)

One will gift will be something each child really wants. The second one will be something she needs, the third something to wear, and the fourth something to read, like their favorite Christmas stories.

Sometimes, especially with teens, I’ll combine two of the gifts (such as something they need and something to wear), and make it a three gift rule.


Another important aspect of traditions is that they are something we share with others. Creating and following through with traditions helps us strengthen and nurture relationships. That’s why it’s so important to work with your spouse to come up with new family traditions that suit your own family.

Take the favorite traditions from each side, blend them, and then come up with a few of your own. You’re creating your very own set of family holiday traditions to bind your family together.

Of course, most years we also share traditions with the larger community like church service on Christmas Day, or the city holiday parade. These events let us interact and meet others in our community. They make us feel part of the city, group, or church.

Holiday Traditions as a Homeschool Family

Holiday Christmas traditions help to establish a sense of your family’s values, purpose, and mission. They let us share celebrations with our loved ones and our community.

Holiday traditions help give us a sense of belonging and mark important dates. Even more importantly, they help us make memories. Think back on your favorite childhood memories of Christmas. Chances are that they are tied to Christmas traditions. Those traditions help us remember the meaningful events around them from one year to the next.

Take a minute to think about your own holiday traditions. What do you do year in and year out? How do you make it feel like Christmas? Nourish those traditions or establish new ones and pass them on to your children.

If you don’t have a lot of traditions yet, now’s the time to start. And don’t stop at Christmas.

Traditions offer rhythms for the year, and they don’t have to be complicated. Instead, keep them simple. Build a sandcastle during summer vacation, make Thursday night, pizza night, or play board games on the first Sunday of the month with friends. Embrace traditions starting this holiday season and see for yourself how they can enrich your family life.

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